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Online grocery sales double over festive period

The data revealed by Nielson showed that whilst visits to stores declined by 10%, overall and including online, shoppers increased their spend per visit to an average of £20, up from £17 a year ago

The online share of grocery sales at UK supermarkets has doubled to 12.5% in the four weeks ending 26 December 2020, up from 6.7% last year, according to new data released by Nielsen.

The rise in sales was predominantly due to a total of 8.5 million households shopping for their Christmas groceries online, an increase from 5.7 million households over the Christmas period in 2019.

The data revealed that whilst visits to stores declined by 10%, overall and including online, shoppers increased their spend per visit to an average of £20, up from £17 a year prior.

Nielsen reported that in the four weeks ending 26 December, a total of almost £12bn was spent at UK supermarkets, with £1.3bn spent online.

Beer, wine and spirits were amongst the fastest growing categories overall and traditional indulgences were still popular with consumers, with sales up for champagne (18%) and crémant sparkling wine (51%).

In terms of retailer performance over the last 12 weeks, Lidl led the growth by 20.9% followed by Morrisons which increased 9.2%.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “2020 marks the first Christmas where online shopping played a significant role in consumers’ shopping behaviours, with 85% of the incremental sales in food and drink made online in the last four weeks ending 26th December.

“Although overall grocery growth was a little lower than in November, this takes into account the many challenges consumers faced around restrictions and cancelled Christmas plans.”

He added: “It has certainly been an unusual Christmas for us all, and this has affected purchasing decisions.

“The pandemic has changed how we live, shop and consume and despite consumers celebrating the festivities in smaller groups, food and drink remained at the heart of celebrations. With fewer people to entertain and cater for, many households took the opportunity to enjoy less traditional meals.”

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